Summary of The Biology of Beauty
Many articles are written by modern psychologists and psychoanalysts that stress the importance of beauty
in human and animal breeding as well as survival. One such article The Biology of Beauty suggests this importance and
backs it up with many facts and figures as well as surveys on normal people. The article states many theories and hypotheses
and also tries to explain why beauty plays such an important role in sexuality and power. What is beauty? According to this
article, beauty is a combination of symmetry, special qualities, and traits.
Symmetry is perhaps the most supported part of beauty in this article. The article states that symmetry
shows abundance of sexual hormones, health, and strength of the immune system. They support their hypothesis of
symmetry's affect on the abundance of sexual hormones with various scientific evidence. Two psychologists, Steven
Gangestead and Randy Thornhill measured the symmetry of hundreds of men and women in college. They also asked them
to complete a personal confidential survey that gave information on their health and sex lives. What they found was that the
men and women with better symmetry had started having sex 3-4 years before the people with average symmetry.
Gangestead and Thornhill also completed another survey involving women's responses to symmetrical men and men with
average symmetry. The results were as expected. The women with symmetrical partners responded twice as much
compared to the women with men having average symmetry. The rate of contraception was also much higher. Animals are
much more severe in their choosing. Female penguins won't accept males who aren't plump and symmetrical, and female
scorpion flies only accept males with symmetrical wings, as they are better at hunting and protecting. Also, less symmetrical
men and women surveyed had more ailments and more frequent accounts of illnesses compared to symmetrical men and
women who were overall much healthier.
Special qualities also play a role in beauty. A person with normal features is not considered as beautiful as
one with a few outstanding features. New Mexico State University's Victor Johnston conducted a computer survey called
FacePrints in which participants of all ages and ethnic groups were asked to give their accounts of a perfect face into the
computer. What they came up with was very surprising. Instead of selecting a female with average facial features, the men
leaned toward a girlish face consisting of many outstanding features. Their ideal face consisted of a small chin and jaws as
well as large eyes and luscious lips. Women value the opposite of the face constructed by men: a face consisting of a strong
jaw and chin, prominent cheekbones, a broad forehead, and a severe brow. Infants were also tested by psychologist Judith
Langlois. In her experiment, Judith showed the infant pictures of attractive and unattractive faces. What she found was that
infants stared much longer at the pictures of attractive faces and quickly looked away from the pictures of unattractive faces.
The infants, however, had no inkling of what was attractive from media or T.V, so our idea of attractiveness could very well
be inate. So beauty is not just a means of selecting the most fit partner.
Traits are also an important factor in attractiveness and beauty. Traits reflect fertility and sexual
potency in particular. An expert in female traits, Devendra Singh works as a psychologist at the University of Texas studying
the attractive traits of the female figure. His survey on attractive female figures gives an outlook on what men find most
attractive. According to the results of his survey, men found figure N7 in Devendra's chart the most sexually attractive.
Following in popular choice were N8 and U7. The men that took the survey ranged in age from eight to eighty five and yet the
favorite of each age group, N7, had a waist to hip ratio of .7 or 70%.
So here is the definition of beauty as portrayed by the article. The ideal man should be above average
height, have a broad forehead, perfect symmetry in wrist, ankles, and elbows as well as face, a strong chin, a large jaw, a
prominent brow, slightly above average musculature, and a waist-hip ratio of .9 or 90%. The ideal woman, on the other hand,
should have large eyes, a small jaw, chin, and nose, full lips, firm, symmetrical breasts, unblemished skin, and a waist-hip
ratio of .7 or 70%. My opinion concurs with the article for the most part, and their consistency of taking in account that
beauty isn't everything and that most people are married and have children despite physical impurities is very admirable. I
think that appearance regretfully does have a strong influence in how we perceive people, but it is good that these limits are
not severe, and that we can earn others respect with kindness, intelligence, and a good personality. I think that this ability to
break through physical barriers separates us from the animals, and even though we may not be as fit for survival as if we had
full physical choices, the ability to choose not just on physical attributes makes us a better, smarter more admirable species.
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